5 Game Changers Every Advertiser Must Know in March 2018

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SQAD POD: 5 Game Changers Every Advertiser Should Know – March 2018

Industry news and insights podcast curated from the world of advertising and marketing trends.

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Spring is about to bust out all over, and soon we’ll be pulling out the picnic blankets for fun days in the park, laying on the grass and playing in the sun. But before the final snow flurries of winter are gone, we’ve got time to look at the exciting new advertising trends and industry news stories. This month we’re talking about cutbacks on primetime ads, local OTT advertising, even more media mergers, sponsored direct messages on Facebook Messenger, and advertising in the era of Time’s Up.

1. In Primetime TV Ads, ‘Less Is More’

Viewers of This Is Us (and other NBC shows) will soon start noticing their favorite primetime shows are being interrupted less frequently by commercial breaks. In an effort to bring viewers back to the couch, NBC is planning to reduce the amount of ad slots in primetime programming. Beginning in the fourth quarter, it plans on reducing the number of primetime ads by 20 percent and the amount of ad time during primetime by 10 percent. Similarly, Fox wants to reduce ad time on its channel to two minutes per hour by 2020. So this begs the question: How will the reduction impact advertisers? Along with reducing its ad spot inventory, NBC is also introducing new formats that would allow advertisers to include real-time commentary about the show (as they would do on Twitter), commercials that would play on a part of the screen while the programming is still running, and something they call a “prime pod,” which is a 60-second piece of national ad time during the first or last break of a show, featuring only two sponsors. Shortened primetime ad times and new ad formats will definitely lead advertisers to rethink their strategies.

2. Local Over-The-Top Advertising Gains Steam

One of the largest broadcasting companies in the U.S., Sinclair Broadcast Group, is making moves to drive local advertising on connected TV and over-the-top services – a strategy that has (until now) been hard to justify due to the lack of data around local viewership. However, Sinclair is ready to change your mind and give local businesses the assurances they need to buy into OTT advertising. By joining up with Tru Optik, a data company that manages ads for connected TV and measures OTT viewing, Sinclair wants to empower local advertisers with data that will prove they are getting the best bang for their buck. This move to draw in local OTT advertisers will only be amplified if its acquisition of Tribune Media is approved – a deal that will give it ownership of well over 200 local stations in the major markets, and give it a stronger foothold in a media world currently being transformed by cord cutting and OTT streaming. Can they rejuvenate the stagnant local advertising market? Perhaps targeting OTT ads to specific household demographics is just what local advertisers need to get on board. Time will tell.

3. Comcast Reaches for the Sky

Comcast has thrown their name in the ring for the acquisition of the Sky News, bidding against 21st Century Fox for the UK pay-TV giant, and they are in it to win it with an enormous $31 billion bid on the table. This is a deal that could be a game changer for Comcast, giving them the ability to expand in Europe and possibly work around tight U.S. regulations that are limiting some domestic growth. Above all, the acquisition would help expand their OTT services, which is particularly important after it lost 33,000 traditional pay-tv customers in the last quarter of 2017. While these giant mergers are changing the landscape of media and advertising, they certainly do not come without pushback – most notably from the U.S. Justice Department, which has its hawk eyes on media consolidation acquisitions. The Department is concerned mega-companies could lead to monopolies, higher prices, and less competition – which would, in turn, lead to less innovation. On one hand, it will benefit the big players at the top, and on the other, consumers will be deprived of choice. We’ll have to wait and see which side wins out.

4. Facebook Messenger or Spam Folder?

Though many consider Facebook to be a social media network, it is in fact a robust and complex advertising machine. It’s safe to assume everything it does, has (or will have) an advertising revenue model attached to it. Case in point, the company is now looking to its Messenger platform to boost revenue by allowing businesses to schedule sponsored messages to people who have already used Messenger to contact that business. The messages will be blasted and targeted to users with customized text, images, and a call-to-action button. While this personalized way of advertising makes the business-to-customer experience more intimate, many may be left with trust issues. Essentially, Facebook is creating a policy that says, “if you contact a company on Messenger you are opting in to unsolicited marketing.” While this may seem like good news for advertisers (removing the expressed consent process from communication marketing), the unintended consequences could be driving consumers out of Messenger all together, and/or cause users to think twice before communicating with a company in Messenger or on Facebook. Maybe the potential of losing Messenger users in an attempt to create paid push advertising, is an acceptable risk for Facebook… after all, they have WhatsApp sitting in the wings to take the place of Messenger if they burn their goodwill with consumers.

5. Advertising in the Era of ‘Time’s Up’

While advanced technology and format innovations often drive game changing trends in the advertising industry, sometimes cultural shifts and political sentiment can be just as disruptive to the status quo. The latest to shake things up is a group of 180 female CEOs and top agency executives, who have come together to form a group called Time’s Up Advertising, with their sights set on addressing issues related to sexual harassment and gender inequality within the industry. Their goal is to drive efforts to make the advertising environment safer and more inclusive through policies, practices, and actions. What began with 14 C-suite female players with a vision of industry transformation at the start of the year, has since become a team of 180 women-strong. The group is holding its first community meetings in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago on May 14. The tremors of the “Time’s Up” movement are being felt across all industries, and it will undeniably shake the grounds of the advertising world, too.

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